Interview – Darin Jesberg

Darin Jesberg
By Chris Murphy

Darin and I share a common history of growing up in independent sport activities and then working for global sporting goods brands, my path leading from Raleigh Bikes to Specialized Bikes and Darin’s leading to Royal Robbins Inc. and Hi-Tec Sports USA. This common connection lead to our meeting when the first railbanking efforts were made to convert the Tidewater Central Railroad to a bike trail. This fledgling effort of about 10 people was Friends of Virginia. Now over a decade later, it is the beautiful Virginia Corridor. Today, Darin, now a Modesto Firefighter, is a father of two and married to Elisabeth, a high school Science teacher. As a super avid cyclist, Darin lives what he preaches and is a leader in positive cycling efforts, local riding and trail activism leading the Dry Creek Trail Riders. The impact of this group is amazing and their reach spreads across our region and is making a positive change. We share another common bond as Lakewood School parents and we love our family, neighborhood, friends and community. Let’s meet Darin.

ModestoView: Modesto is virtually flat, so we are a dream city to grow cycling don’t you think?
Darin Jesberg: Modesto is set up really well to cater to cyclists of all ability levels and interests. Since Modesto is flat, much like Davis, it makes it easy to get around on a bicycle. I am a member of the Modesto Bicycle Advisory Committee; we are currently working with city staff on making Modesto a more bicycle friendly community; you have probably noticed the increase in bike lanes and signage that identify designated bike travel routes. Although there is much work to be done, I think that we as a community are on the right path to becoming a great city to promote and support cycling activities.

MV: It seems like your move to firefighter allowed you to be even more passionate about local cycling and trail advocacy. How did this evolve?
DJ: After completing my enlistment in the Air Force and moving to Modesto in 1992, I went back to school, attending The University of the Pacific. Not really sure where my next career would take me, I took business courses, did an internship at Royal Robbins Inc, and began volunteering as a firefighter. After graduating from UOP, I continued to work in business for Royal Robbins as their first web master and continued to volunteer as a firefighter. I was then offered a marketing manager position with Hi- Tec Sports USA, which I accepted in 1999. Although I really wanted to be a firefighter, my business career was looking more promising at the time. In 2003 I decided to make a career change and pursue a career in firefighting; that decision has been an excellent choice for me. With my new career and new schedule, working twenty four hours on then twenty four hours off, I was able to spend time during the week focusing on raising my daughter and son and spend time on my hobbies- cycling. Although I am at work for fifty six hours per week, I have more time off during the week. This allows me to get involved in community based advocacy projects.

MV: What was your favorite sport activity as a kid and where did you grow up?
DJ: I grew up in southern California in the 70s and 80s. Back then every kid on the block rode their BMX bike everywhere- I used to ride to school, the store, friends’ houses, and explore my surroundings every week-end on the bike. So, I’d say cycling has always been my go to sport. In 1987 I borrowed a friends mountain bike for the week-end; I instantly became a big fan of mountain biking- I bought my first mountain bike in 1988 while stationed in Germany. I continue to ride, race, and advocate cycling as a healthy, family friendly sport.

MV: What is the biggest need we have as a community for trail access?
DJ: Fortunately Modesto has a really nice trail system- Dry Creek Regional Park and Tuolumne Regional River Park. After moving to Modesto, I discovered this little gem of a trail system- Dry Creek. I appreciate the fact that I can ride from my house to the trail and get an hour of trail riding in without having to drive anywhere. As a community I think it is important to take care of our trail system and valuable green space. As an avid trail user, I rallied a few of my riding partners to begin taking care of our trail system. In 2009 I started the Dry Creek Trail Riders then two years later Dry Creek Trails Coalition. The Dry Creek Trail Riders group, DCTR, has grown to five hundred members since 2009. What I have found is that there is a sense of community at Dry Creek amongst trail users; the two groups capture this sense of community to benefit Dry Creek.

MV: How would you rate Modesto as a cycling town?
DJ: Modesto is set up really well for cycling; the weather is relatively mild year round, the terrain is flat, and the city is really not that spread out. We have great bike paths and bike routes throughout the city. And we have great places for recreational riders to ride near Modesto, either on the road or off road. So, I would rate Modesto relatively high as a cycling town.

MV: What can people do, that may not be super avid cyclists do to get involved.
DJ: As I mentioned earlier, I started a group called the Dry Creek Trails Coalition as an advocacy group to focus on preserving Dry Creek Regional Park. I found that the Dry Creek Trail Riders group did not capture all of the trail users of Dry Creek, so the coalition encompasses cyclists, trail runners, and many other trail users. The Dry Creek Trails Coalition model has become very successful in providing a venue for all trail users to give back to their trail system. We host a trail clean up every two months and recently began partnering with Love Modesto. With the support of Love Modesto, we have expanded our partnership opportunities for the greater good of our community.

MV: You had a wonderful turn out at your Love Modesto clean up event, but you do events and activities all year long, what are some of the highlights?
DJ: Yes, on April 18th we hosted our first Dry Creek clean up event in conjunction with Love Modesto. We had over one hundred volunteers that showed Dry Creek a lot of love. These clean up events have gained support of neighborhood groups, high school leadership groups, trail users, and non-profit groups. We work closely with the Tuolumne River Trust, City of Modesto staff as well.

MV: What do we need to do to make sure that the next generation of kids become bike riders?
DJ: It seems like kids are riding their bikes less these days. I think that creating kid friendly bike activities is the key; I am currently working on a bike park project with city staff and a bike park builder. If things work out, Modesto may have a bike park that will cater to kids. The best way to ensure that the next generations of kids become bike enthusiasts is to take them for a ride, explore their surroundings, and maybe even get a little dirty.

MV: If you were king of Modesto for a day, what changes would you make for alternative transportation?
DJ: I would encourage more people to commute by bike, create bike paths along our canal banks, encourage stores and businesses to become more bicycle friendly.

MV: Describe your ideal day in Modesto.
DJ: My ideal day in Modesto would, of course, involve being on a bike. With so much to do and see in Modesto on the week-ends, hopping on my bike and getting out there to take part in downtown activities, enjoy the trails at Dry Creek, riding to have breakfast or lunch and spending quality time with friends and my family- that is pretty close to an ideal day in my opinion.

MV: Beatles or Stones?
DJ: Beatles!

To get involved, please contact Dry Creek Trail Riders & Dry Creek Trails Coalition:>



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.